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Sony gallops to rein in all ‘Rider’ rights

Marvel topper Arad to produce, Salerno may pen

Sony Pictures is in negotiations to take in turnaround from Dimension Films all rights to Marvel Entertainment’s “Ghost Rider.”

Studio is also negotiating with scribe Shane Salerno to pen a screenplay based on the property. Marvel Studios’ topper Avi Arad will produce the pic.

“Ghost Rider” is a story about Johnny Blaze, who makes a “Devil and Daniel Webster”-like pact in an effort to save someone he loves. The devil tricks Blaze into a deal that is not exactly what it’s said to be. However, part of the pact bestows some supernatural qualities onto Johnny, who transforms into a ghost rider on a journey to reclaim his life, his love and his soul.

“Once again, I am very happy to be in business with Sony,” Arad told Daily Variety. “And I hope they are just as happy to be in business with me. This is a big, exciting story that has some spectacular visual effects. It’s one of the most stunningly visual comic books in our collection.”

Sony’s relationship with Marvel has gotten off to a marvelous start: The studio’s tentpole pic “Spider-Man,” based on the Marvel comic, continues to stretch its legs toward a $300 million domestic cume in less than three weeks of release.

Marvel has a deal with Artisan to create 15 features or TV series based on Marvel characters. Marvel Studios, the company’s feature division, is also aligned with Universal for forthcoming tentpole pic “The Hulk,” directed by Ang Lee and starring Eric Bana, Nick Nolte and Jennifer Connelly; and with Fox on “Daredevil,” starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner.

Salerno was one of the scribes with a writing credit on “Shaft,” the John Singleton remake of the 1971 pic, released by Paramount in 2000.

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